Over the past 30 years or so, H. John Krueger just kept chipping away — and driving and putting — at his now-completed goal of playing every golf course in Wisconsin.
"I have the scorecards to prove it," he said.
His wife, Ann, backs up the astonishing claim.
"And he made sure he played every hole," she said. "It's every vacation. Not just a few. Every vacation we did that way. One year we played 36 holes a day for 16 days."
Even their honeymoon in 1987 was nonstop golf, including 54 holes on the last day. Clearly, not the dream of every bride, but she's all in.
"I like golf," Ann said, though she didn't play before meeting John. "It's really nice to do together as a couple. Some people walk. We play golf."
Last month, John, 68, of Hartland, declared victory after tackling Washington Park Golf Course in Racine. This was the 546th and last of the public and private courses he mapped out from one end of Wisconsin to the other.
Or so he thought. Someone saw an article that the Racine Journal Times wrote about this and contacted John to tell him about a super secret private course, also in Racine County, called Pan Yack Park. The caller invited John to play there with him, and this became course number 547 on his list.
He hears rumors of one other course for Illinois bigwigs in the Lake Geneva area but doesn't even know its name. If it really exists, he will find a way to make it 548.
That includes all the regulation 18-hole and 9-hole courses statewide, though not the short par-3 courses. He didn't bother with those for this quest. He relied on various Wisconsin golf course directories and word of mouth. To get on private courses, he often signed up for tournaments or called in a favor from a friend.
Gene Haas, retired longtime director of the Wisconsin State Golf Association, told the Journal Times he has never heard anyone else claim to have played every course in the state. John Krueger appears to be in a class of one.
John's introduction to the game came at Naga-Waukee War Memorial Golf Course in Pewaukee, but I don't mean he actually played a round there. In high school in the 1960s, he was hired to clear away stones on what would become the 14th fairway as it was under construction.
"As I picked the stones, I was thinking, 'Thank God I am getting paid, as I doubt I will ever play this stupid game called golf.' I now have to swallow some crow as I have been a member of their men's golf club for 26 years," he said.
His very first round of golf came in 1968 at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, a 9-hole course priced back then at $2.50 for all day. The course remains open today.
John excelled at several sports growing up and baseball was his true love until he was 41. Since then, golf has completely taken over his free time and even his work time. For 18 years, he ran Midwest Golf Marketing and promoted the Wisconsin Classic Golf Tour, a discount program.
His kids, John and Tiffany, and their spouses enjoy golf, and now his granddaughters, Kate and Julia, have taken up the game.
In the beginning, John played with clubs salvaged from rummage sales. Today, he favors Cobra woods, Mizuno irons and a Yes! putter, the sound you make when the ball drops in the cup.
"Prior to 2011, my handicap was in single digits. Then prostate cancer and age intervened, and since then I have hovered between a 10 and 14," he said.
With his feat complete, what now? It's a question Ann has been asking her husband. She has joined him on more than 300 of the state's courses.
"We will have to start over and play them all again," he joked.
At least I think he was joking.
This article is written by Jim Stingl from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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